Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Culture of Fear?

My sister and I were talking via email this morning about the latest stories about General Gates' new book and the fall of Fallujah.  It got me thinking...

I keep thinking about the difference between our generation and our parents' generation.  In our parents' day ~ WWII ~ the country mourned when a city that "our boys"  had fought so hard to take and keep fell.  I really thought that after 9-11 we had finally recovered from Vietnam and learned to support and love our protectors again.  But when we have such a lack of leadership in government, I guess we shouldn't be surprised.  Yeah, I'm pretty upset about it.  Angry and sad.  I wish I could say that I'm confused by all this but I'm too cynical to be confused. 

It was interesting reading the news this morning; I had a bit of an epiphany.  I make myself at least look at the headlines on Drudge Report and then read through the big stories on Fox News once a day.  I don't enjoy the process, but I do it.  I realized that not only have we become a culture who allow the media to shape our views and our emotions, we are allowing the media to generate desired emotional responses in us and thus create a culture of fear.  Think about what you hear and read on the news.  There are so many stories that we would have been ignorant of 20 years ago.  Not that they are not important, we just did not have access to this volume of news.  These news stories are being reported in a way to create fear even among educated Christians.  Interesting to think about.  If I allow myself to have fear as my primary emotion, what does that do to me?  Not that I think I need to be an ostrich and go stick my head in the sand and ignore what is going on around me, but how much do I allow the emotions that are created in response to these things to control me?  The media ~ even the conservative media ~ uses news as a stimulus to create a desired response from their readers/listeners.  I think ~ I know! ~ I need to stop allowing them to have that kind of control over me. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm still pretty furious about the Gates story that is coming out.  I think that the way our military is being used by the current administration is wrong.  I think that the things that are happening to them are tragic.  I think that we are losing many, many good people in not backing them up, and through leaving them unprotected.  I think that the way they are being treated is keeping some terrific young people from deciding that this is how they want to spend their lives.  When the military (and law enforcement) becomes a political tool instead of a group of folks committed to protecting and serving those who need help, their purpose changes and they are weakened as an institution. 

How do we respond, then?  How are God's people supposed to react to these things and keep our responses controlled by HIM instead of by someone else?  It goes back to focus and priorities and world view.  I have to filter all of this news through a perspective that is founded on Biblical truth.  I know that sounds like empty Christian-ese but let me explain how that has changed me over the past few months.  
I spent the fall reading through the histories of the Old Testament; Joshua, Judges, Samuels, Kings and Chronicles.  I re-discovered that the world is not that much different now than it was several thousand years ago.  God's people had horrible, depraved men in political control.   This was God's country designed to be a theocracy and it was totally corrupt.  In many ways it was worse than what we see around us here and now.  The remnant of those who were faithful to God did not have the comfort of the Old Testament to read, let alone the New Testament.  I wonder how often they spent their days putting one foot in front of the other and with grim determination making themselves remember "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, The Lord is One"  
When I spend more time each day reading and studying "news" that is fashioned by men and women, and less time reading and studying "news" from God, then these men and women are shaping the way I think.  They now have control not only over my thoughts but also my emotions.  However if I spend more time in studying my Bible and talking to God and listening to Him, then He controls how I respond to everything else that I hear and see.  Instead of being fearful about the state of the world, I am confident that God is still in control.  More than that, I am even more aware of His power over all of it!  When that happens I can read the news and go from being someone who is bowed down by the fear and depression of the times to someone with her head up and confidence in the goodness and authority of God.

My friend Tammy characterizes this so well.  Tammy is very well educated about what is going on in the world but I never come away from a conversation with her thinking about what is going on in the world. Instead I come away with a renewed sense of Who God Is.  Because Tammy is diligent in her obedience to what God tells her to do, she is able to be an incredible encouragement to everyone she meets.
That's what I want to be like.  May God give me the grace to focus on HIM today.  May He use me for His glory to encourage, help and strengthen His people.

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